Why does a maths boffin want to get rid of this Sheffield United sign?

Signs directing football fans to Sheffield United's Bramall Lane ground and Sheffield Wednesday's Hillbsorough stadium could be axed - if a maths expert gets his way.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 31st October 2017, 2:10 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 11:05 am
Signs like this are wrong, says a maths campaigner.
Signs like this are wrong, says a maths campaigner.

Maths crusader Matt Parker is calling on changes to be made to road signs pointing the way to the UK's football stadiums - because he says the icon used is not an accurate diagram of a real football.

Currently, the image on the sign is made entirely of hexagons - but he says a ball like that would be geometrically impossible to make.

Instead, a real football has a mixture of hexagons and pentagons - and Mr Parker has started a petition to get that changed.

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However, despite 20,000 people signing up to support him, the government has given them the red card.

The pattern of white and dark hexagons is stipulated in UK law as the image for a football ground.

But says even if the hexagons were somewhat distorted, the design wouldn't work.

It's "a bit of a national embarrassment", he says, because of Britain's long tradition in sport and its "very proud" tradition in mathematics and science.

The mathematician, from Godalming in Surrey, said: "We really should fix this.

"If we do get it fixed, that's just going to bring geometry into the public mind.

"People who have never thought about the shapes that make up a football or street signs will suddenly be engaged in 3D geometry - that's going to be amazing."

The Department for Transport says the purpose of traffic signs is to get drivers to take in information quickly and the symbols are merely a "general representation" of the activity.

This particular football ground symbol was first used in 1994 so drivers have become "accustomed" to it, the spokesman said.

"The purpose of a traffic sign is not to raise public appreciation and awareness of geometry which is better dealt with in other ways."

He added he had specifically asked not to change current signs but to set a precedent for new signs.

Mr Parker says the next step is to get 100,000 signatures so the government will have to debate the issue in parliament.